Bruno Sammartino remains the greatest WWE Champion of all-time, yet the WWE had never inducted him into their Hall of Fame. The reason was because Bruno rejected every offer. In an interview with WWE.com on Feb. 6, Triple H said that all of Bruno's complaints were justified.
"Bruno has had his gripes about the company in the past and they were completely justified," Triple H said. "But we’ve changed, we’ve grown and we’ve evolved as a company. We’ve evolved as a business."
This caused Triple H to take it upon himself to approach Sammartino and pitch the Hall of Fame again. He showed the living legend how the profanity and vulgarity of the Attitude Era was gone and also described to him how the medical testing and drug policies were implemented. When a doctor that Sammartino used describe the actions the WWE was taking, Sammartino was sold.
There had been issues and things that I was not happy with, but when I saw the changes, I was very, very impressed," Sammartino said.
It also helped that the induction will take place at Madison Square Garden, where Bruno was a legend. Events at Madison Square Garden with Sammartino sold out 187 times and he won his very first world title there when he pinned Buddy Rogers in only 48 seconds.
"I came back to New York and wrestled Rogers on May 17, 1963, and beat him with the backbreaker," Sammartino said. "And like when I lifted Haystacks Calhoun, I thought the roof was going to pop off the Garden. That was the very beginning and after that, I was in Madison Square Garden every month."
Sammartino also remembers the one moment in Madison Square Garden that shook him up more than any other. He was defending his world title against the Russian villain Ivan Koloff and the Russian Bear beat him for the belt. That is when Bruno experienced something he never witnessed before. No one was booing Koloff and everyone sat in silence.
"I thought something happened to my hearing because I couldn’t hear a thing. Everything was so quiet," Sammartino remembered. "Slowly, I get up and it was so quiet it was spooky. Finally, I started making my way out of the ring and people were literally crying as I was going by. They were saying, 'Bruno, we’ll always love you. You’ll always be the champion. Nobody’s better than you.'
"It touched me so deeply that when I went in the dressing room I was really depressed. I always busted my behind because I wanted people to go home happy and say, “Wow, what a great night.” But that night, when I saw that reaction, it saddened me that people felt so bad. I felt awful. I sat in that dressing room for a long time. I never expected that."
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